• Dr. Steve Sullivan

Protect Your Pet from Hookworms


What are hookworms?

  • They are a common intestinal parasite of dogs and cats

  • They thrive in warm, moist, sandy soil

How do pets get hookworms?

Baby hookworms can be ingested by nursing puppies or kittens drinking the mother's infected milk. They can also be ingested by eating feces on the ground, on other animals, or off the mother's mammary gland. Baby hookworms on the ground can penetrate the skin, especially on or around the feet.

What happens after an animal gets hookworms?

The baby worms develop into adult worms in the intestine. They make eggs which exit your pet in his/her stool. Hookworms feed on blood and tissue by piercing the intestinal lining, leaving numerous bleeding puncture wounds as the worms leave to feed at a new site.

What damage does hookworms cause in pets?

They cause dark, tar looking stool and can also cause a very severe anemia. Blood loss is greatest 10-15 days after onset of the infection. A single hookworm can remove up to 0.5 mls blood per day. Severe infection in young animals can be fatal.

How can I get rid of hookworms in my pet?

Your veterinarian will send you home with some medicine. Like all medication, it is important to follow the directions or you may not get rid of the worms. Keeping your pet on worm medicine will prevent them from becoming reinfected.

Can humans get hookworms?

Yes, they can cause a type of skin inflammation when baby hookworms enter the skin and travel beneath the surface. At the site of penetration, reddened, severely itching skin lesions similar to insect bites appear 2-4 days after the infection. Sometimes the worms cause lines in the skin as they travel. The rash will go away on its own in several months after the worm dies but your family doctor can give you medicine that will get get rid of it in a few days.

How can I prevent myself or my family from catching hookworm?

  • Do not touch feces with your bare hands

  • Pick up any feces as soon as possible and dispose of it

  • Do not walk barefoot where your pet has been defecating

  • Do not let your pet defecate in sand boxes where your child may play

  • Keep your pet on a regular worming program

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